Early Development, Prior to 1830

Tour curated by: RHDC

A southern capital is established among plantations along a major north-south road.

This early period includes the founding of Raleigh in 1792 and continues through the first few decades of the nineteenth century. During this time, Raleigh grew little in population and remained essentially a government town. Architecture surviving from this earliest period of development in Raleigh generally includes properties that were well outside the city limits at the time of their construction. Raleigh, founded specifically for the purpose of being the state capital, was for several decades about a square mile in area: its city limits remained fixed at North, East, South, and West Streets until 1857.

In addition to these early buildings, much of Raleigh's 1792 street plan survives. Surveyor William Christmas's plan included Union Square (today the site of the State Capitol) with four main streets extending from the square: Hillsborough, Fayetteville, New Bern, and Halifax. Other streets formed a regular grid with Union Square near the center. Four smaller park squares also graced the plan; today, only Nash and Moore Squares remain open parks. The Executive Mansion stands on Burke Square and state government buildings occupy Caswell Square.

Locations for Tour

Joseph Lane, brother of Joel Lane, who owned the land upon which Raleigh was founded, built this small Georgian style farmhouse in western Wake County. The house, moved to its present location in 1980 to prevent demolition, has been rehabilitated.…

The Trinity House is Wake County's oldest surviving brick house. Despite an expansion in the nineteenth century and extensive remodeling in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, the house retains original details like the Flemish-bond…

This Federal-style plantation house features molded weatherboards, modillion cornice, Flemish bond chimneys and six-panel doors. Nathaniel Jones, an early Wake County settler, built the dwelling. Today, the wooded site is an eighteenth-century island…

Joel Lane built the original dwelling, a frame house in the hall and parlor plan, for his son Henry. The house is named for Moses Mordecai, who married into the Lane family and provided in his will for the 1826 Greek Revival addition, designed by…

Andrew Johnson, seventeenth president of the United States, was born in this tiny gambrel-roofed building with a loft. The building was the detached kitchen for Peter Casso's Inn as well as home to the four members of the Johnson family. …

This one-room frame building typifies late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century office buildings. Two lawyers prominent in North Carolina politics shared the office: George Edmund Badger, a state legislator, judge, and secretary of the navy; and…

Raleigh's oldest surviving financial building housed the first state-sponsored banking institution in North Carolina. Architecturally, the building represents the transition between Federal and Greek Revival styles and features handmade brick as…

Built for John Haywood, state treasurer for forty years, Haywood Hall remained home to one of North Carolina's most distinguished families until 1977. The family bequeathed the late Georgian/early Federal-style house to the State Society of the…

Also known as Whitehall, the original late Georgian/early Federal-style dwelling was built for secretary of state William White. The house has undergone major changes including the addition of a Victorian wing and an about face when the City of…

Elmwood, a two-and-one-half story frame townhouse, has been home to many distinguished North Carolinians including two Supreme Court chief justices, an associate justice, an ambassador and a historian. The house displays many Federal-period…

The gambrel-roofed home of Colonel Joel Lane has been restored to its 1790-1795 appearance by the Wake County Committee of the Colonial Dames. Colonel Lane became known as the "Father of Raleigh" after he sold a thousand acres of land to…

Spring Hill was the home of prominent late-eighteenth/early-nineteenth-century plantation owner and lawyer, Theophilus Hunter Jr. The earliest marked grave in Wake County, that of pioneer settler Theophilus Hunter Sr., is in the yard. The dwelling…

Named for Phares Yates, whose family operated it from 1869 to 1948, Yates Mill is the only water-powered mill building remaining in Wake County. Remodeled at various times, its present size and configuration date to the 1850s. Prior to closing in…

The Nathaniel "Crabtree" Jones House is remarkable for its intact Federal‐style architecture. The house is a rare surviving early nineteenth‐century house built in what was at the time rural Wake County. It represents the type of…